A Circuit Court trial is similar to the District Court trial with the same questions. The main difference between a District Court trial and a Circuit Court trial is that Circuit Court trials usually involve a jury and the medicals records are usually deemed inadmissible unless the doctor comes in to testify. At a typical Circuit Court trial the lawyers will submit voir dire to the Judge in advance, to help the Judge pick a jury. Voir dires are questions each lawyer presents to the judge for him/her to ask the jurors, to help the lawyers learn more about the potential jurors.
The jury panel will then be brought in and will be asked a series of questions. After the questioning, the lawyers and their clients will pick a jury. In a Circuit Court civil trial, juries consist of six people and each party gets a certain amount of strikes to pick a mutually amenable jury. Once the jury has been selected, opening arguments are given and each lawyer, starting with the Plaintiff’s side, gives his/her opening statement which outlines each side’s theory of the case, as well as a brief outline of the injuries involved.
After opening arguments, the Plaintiff will then present his side of the case. First, the Plaintiff will testify after which he will present any witnesses on the issue of liability, as well as any witnesses on the issue of damages. At this point, any medical providers will be called as witnesses. At the end of the Plaintiff’s case motions, or legal arguments to the court as to what issues will be submitted to the jury, are made. If those motions are not granted, the Defendant will present his side of the case and will testify along with any witnesses, including medical experts. After this, both sides make motions again and the court makes a ruling on the motion.
The lawyers and the Judge then give the jury a set of instructions on the law of the particular case. This is the only opportunity the jury gets to hear what the law is with regard to your case. It provides them with a basic understanding of the law, so that they can synthesize their knowledge of the law with the evidence for your case to reach a decision, or verdict. Instructions in the case typically last approximately a half hour and then both lawyers give their closing arguments. After closing arguments, the case is then presented to the jury. The jury then deliberates on your case until they reach a verdict. Typically the jury has to decide on two issues, first, who is at fault and second, what (if any) injuries were sustained. Then the jury renders the verdict on your case. A typical verdict sheet will look as follows:
- Was the Defendant negligent?
- Was the Plaintiff contributory negligent?
- Was the Plaintiff injured?
- What amount do you award, if any for medical expenses?
- What amount do you award, if any for lost wages?
- What amount do you award, if any for pain and suffering?